Sustainability Dispatch July-August 2023

Record-breaking sea surface temperatures are being recorded around the world, from the waters surrounding Florida reaching 38°C to the Mediterranean Sea almost reaching 30°C. On the Pacific Ocean, the El Niño event is pushing the already warming surface temperatures even higher. These extreme changes in temperature in the world oceans have implications for marine life and humans alike, including mass mortalities of marine life and an increase in ocean acidification. However, and perhaps more worrisome, are the shifts in marine currents that have the potential to cause losses of millions of dollars in damages because of extreme weather events, and ecological shifts that threaten food security and human health.

Regardless of the looming signs of climate change upon us—or in response to—the EC2 will step up its efforts at the city-level on adaptation solutions, to help build more resilient futures around Latin America and the Caribbean through different initiatives. Above 80% of the region’s population lives in urban settings (and this percentage grows to almost 90% by 2050), yet many if not most cities face important challenges and threats as climate risks increase. From critical infrastructure damages, to droughts, pollution and vector-borne diseases, city-centers must create a climate-proof future through better long-term planning. You can read more about our future work in this newsletter, and we welcome any interest in collaborating.

Welcome back to the Sustainability Dispatch!

Our Recent Work

Cities Forward Participants Unveiled

We partnered with the U.S. Department of State, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, and Resilient Cities Catalyst to create a flagship urban sustainability initiative titled Cities Forward.  This program is dedicated to assisting Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and U.S. cities in creating sustainable, inclusive, and resilient futures through project consultation, co-design, and knowledge sharing. On August 14th, we announced the 24 cities selected to participate—12 from LAC and 12 from the U.S., from 129 applicants. You can find the press release here.

Loreto 2050 Project

Twenty years after a groundbreaking study analyzing a series of Alternative Futures for the town of Loreto, in Baja California Sur, we are going back for a follow-up assessment to produce relevant data that contributes to ongoing discussions on the municipality’s urban development plans. A multidisciplinary group of experts and local stakeholders—some of whom participated in the original study—will once again come together to share information regarding relevant issues including natural resource management, energy sources, tourism development and the local economy. In partnership with GeoAdaptive and EcoAlianza, Loreto 2050 aims to continue to empower Loreto’s civil society to participate in designing a sustainable future for their community.

Storymap on Shipping Emissions and Water Pollution

Explore this interactive story where we will follow the “Sapphire of the West”, a fictional but representative cruise ship, on a typical 5-day journey from San Diego, CA to La Paz, Mexico, doing two port of calls along the way. We analyze the impact of different environmental regulations on atmospheric and marine pollution—particularly of ships’ exhaust gas cleaning system discharges, AKA scrubbers, since they are highly polluting and they are not allowed in California, yet they are in Mexican waters. 

Meeting with Mexico’s Marine Secretary and Ports

On August 15th, we met with Captain Ana Laura López Bautista, General Coordinator of Ports and Merchant Marine of Mexico’s Marine Secretary, along with other important representatives from the ports of Ensenada, Guaymas, Lázaro Cárdenas and Manzanillo, as well as from the Consulate of Mexico in Los Angeles. We discussed relevant topics on environmental management and protection and future collaborations, as Mexico now chairs the technical committee on competitiveness of the Organization of American States’ Interamerican Ports Committee.

Programs

Digital Transformation for Sustainability – A Latin American and Caribbean Journey

Don’t miss this issue paper where we explore the concept of digital transformation for a more sustainable future in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, the most pressing challenges, best practices to date, and a potential blueprint for success in the future.

Analysis

Op-ed by Tania Miranda (in Spanish only) in El Heraldo de México PART I and PART II, regarding Mexico’s need to implement stronger environmental regulations on the maritime industry and ports, in order to stay competitive. This is the summary of our recommendations for Mexico in the short and medium term, contained in the op-eds above:

1.  Ratify MARPOL Annex VI and impose environmental standards that, while stricter, will help protect our natural capital. They are already in place in many parts of the world and do not deter businesses.

2.  Invest in the production and scaling of low-carbon technologies and fuels, using the resources and industries we already have—such as green hydrogen and green methanol. This includes not only the private sector but also the government (and tools they have at their disposal, such as incentives), and most certainly development banks.

3. Collaborate with different stakeholders in the sector to promote early and voluntary action, and support ports in decarbonizing operations and improving their energy efficiency. This will make us an attractive destination, effectively increasing our competitiveness, for the growing number of companies and customers seeking to acquire and transport their goods in the most sustainable way possible. Demand-driven initiatives and pre-requisites are already coming down the pipeline.

Appreciation

Collaborative management of artisanal fisheries in Mexico

After an 8-week joint summer internship with Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) and the Gulf of California Marine Program (GCMP), graduate student Anabel Espinosa successfully completed her research on “Collaborative management of artisanal fisheries in Mexico: Punta Abreojos, a case study.” Anabel is a Biology graduate student at California State University-Fullerton and was awarded the CSU Pre-Doctoral Scholarship, allowing her to be part of UCSD’s Summer Training Academy for Research Success.

During her internship, she worked closely with GCMP, the Aburto Lab at SIO and the fishing cooperative at Punta Abreojos, analyzing fisheries data and how climate change impacts target species.

 

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About EC2

The Institute of the Americas’ Environment & Climate Change Program (EC2) strives to catalyze climate leadership amongst the private sector and local/regional governments in the Americas, to promote sustainable growth, tackle climate change and minimize environmental impacts in the region with the goal of protecting its rich marine and land-based natural capital.